It was the trickle of pee heard around the world. Cannes attendees were aghast and/or amused an infamous scene from The Paperboy that shows Nicole Kidman urinating on Zac Efron; this is apparently a great salve for jellyfish burns which were covering our Ken Doll-like protagonist. (In fact the term protagonist should be used very loosely for Efron's character Jack who is mostly acted upon than active throughout.)
Lurid! Sexy! Perverse! Trashy! Whether or not it's actually effective is overshadowed by all the hubbub that's attached itself to the movie for better or worse. In fact the movie is all of these things — but that's actually not a compliment. What could have become somethingmemorable is jaw-droppingly bad (when it's not hilarious). Director Lee Daniels uses a few different visual styles throughout from a stark black and white palette for a crime scene recreation at the beginning to a '70s porno aesthetic that oscillates between psychedelic and straight-up sweaty with an emphasis on Efron's tighty-whiteys. This only enhances the sloppiness of the script which uses lines like narrator/housekeeper/nanny Anita's (Macy Gray) "You ain't tired enough to be retired " to conjure up the down-home wisdom of the South. Despite Gray's musical talents she is not a good choice for a narrator or an actor for that matter. In a way — insofar as they're perhaps the only female characters given a chunk of screen time — her foil is Charlotte Bless Nicole Kidman's character. Anita is the mother figure who wears as we see in an early scene control-top pantyhose whereas Charlotte is all clam diggers and Barbie doll make-up. Or as Anita puts it "an oversexed Barbie doll."
The slapdash plot is that Jack's older brother Ward (Matthew McConaughey) comes back to town with his colleague Yardley (David Oyelowo) to investigate the case of a death row criminal named Hillary Van Wetter. Yardley is black and British which seems to confuse many of the people he meets in this backwoods town. Hillary (John Cusack) hidden under a mop of greasy black hair) is a slack-jawed yokel who could care less if he's going to be killed for a crime he might or might not have committed. He is way more interested in his bride-to-be Charlotte who has fallen in love with him through letters — this is her thing apparently writing letters and falling in love with inmates — and has rushed to help Ward and Yardley free her man. In the meantime we're subjected to at least one simulated sex scene that will haunt your dreams forever. Besides Hillary's shortcomings as a character that could rustle up any sort of empathy the case itself is so boring it begs the question why a respected journalist would be interested enough to pursue it.
The rest of the movie is filled with longing an attempt to place any the story in some sort of social context via class and race even more Zac Efron's underwear sexual violence alligator innards swamp people in comically ramshackle homes and a glimpse of one glistening McConaughey 'tock. Harmony Korine called and he wants his Gummo back.
It's probably tantalizing for this cast to take on "serious" "edgy" work by an Oscar-nominated director. Cusack ditched his boombox blasting "In Your Eyes" long ago and Efron's been trying to shed his squeaky clean image for so long that he finally dropped a condom on the red carpet for The Lorax so we'd know he's not smooth like a Ken doll despite how he was filmed by Daniels. On the other hand Nicole Kidman has been making interesting and varied career choices for years so it's confounding why she'd be interested in a one-dimensional character like Charlotte. McConaughey's on a roll and like the rest of the cast he's got plenty of interesting projects worth watching so this probably won't slow him down. Even Daniels is already shooting a new film The Butler as we can see from Oprah's dazzling Instagram feed. It's as if they all want to put The Paperboy behind them as soon as possible. It's hard to blame them.
The Amazing Spider-Man would prefer if you didn't call it the fourth Spider-Man movie. See this ain't the Spider-Man your older brother knew from ten years ago — it's a reboot. The latest adventure to feature the comic book webslinger throws three movies worth of established mythology straight out the window swapping the original cast with an ensemble of fresh faces and resetting the franchise with a spiffy new origin story. "New" in the loosest sense of the word — the highlights of ASM mainly a sleek new design and spunky reinterpretation of Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and gal pal Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) are weighed down by overpowering sense of familiarity. Nearly a beat for beat replica of the 2002 original with some irksome twists of mystery thrown in Amazing Spider-Man fails to evolve its hero or his quarrels. The film has a great sense of cinematic power but little responsibility in making it interesting.
We're first introduced to Peter Parker as a young boy watching as his parents rush out of the house in response to a hidden danger. Mr. and Mrs. Parker leave their son in the care of his Aunt May (Sally Fields) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) who raise him into Andrew Garfield's geeky cool spin on the character. Parker's a science whiz but faces the challenges of every day life — passing classes talking to girls the occasional jock with aggression issues — but all of life's woes are put on hold when the teen discovers a new clue in the mystery behind his parents' disappearance. The discovery of his dad's old briefcase and notes leads Peter to Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) a scientist working for mega-conglomerate Oscorp and his Dad's old partner. When they cross paths Connors instantly takes a liking to the wunderkind and loops him into the work he started with his father: replicating the regeneration abilities of lizards in amputee humans (Connors is driven to reform his own missing arm). But when Parker wanders into Oscorp's room full of spiders (a sloppily explained this-needs-to-be-here-for-this-to-happen device) he receives his legendary spider bite that transforms him into the hero we know.
Director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) desperately wants Amazing Spider-Man to work as a high school relationship movie but with the burden of massive amounts of plot and mythology to introduce the movie sags under the sheer volume of stuff. Stone turns Parker's object of affection Gwen Stacey into a three-dimensional character. Whenever they happen upon each other an awkward exchange in the hallway a flirtatious back-and-forth in the Oscorp lab (where Stacey is head…intern) or when the two finally begin a romantic relationship the two stars shine. They're vivid characters chopped to bits in the editing room diluted by boring franchise-building plot threads and routine action sequences. Seriously Amazing Spider-Man another mad scientist villain who uses himself as a test subject only to become a monster? And another bridge rescue scene? Amazing Spider-Man desperately wants to disconnect from the original trilogy but it's trapped in an inescapable shadow and does nothing radical to shake things up. Instead it settles for the same old same old while preparing for inevitable sequels instead of investing in its dynamic duo.
There's a sweet spot where the film really hits his stride. After discovering his spider-abilities Peter hits the streets for the first time. He's superhuman but still a headstrong teen full of obnoxious quips and close calls with shiv-wielding thugs. The action is slick small and playful Webb showing us something new by melding his indie sensibilities with big scale action. If only it lasted — the introduction of Ifans reptilian half The Lizard implodes Amazing Spider-Man into incomprehensible blockbuster chaos. A gargantuan beast wreaking havoc around New York City promises King Kong-like escapades for the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man but the lizard man has other plans: to rule the world! Or something. Whatever it takes to get Lizard and Spider-Man fighting on the top of a skyscraper over a doomsday machine — logic be damned.
Amazing Spider-Man peppers its banal foundation with great talent from Denis Leary as Gwen's wickedly funny dad and the police captain hunting down Spider-Man to Fields and Sheen as two loving adults in Peter's life to Garfield and Stone whose chemistry demands a follow-up for the sake of seeing them reunited. But it's all at the cost of putting on the most expensive recreation of all time with new demands imposed by the success Marvel's other properties (except that franchise teasing worked). Amazing Spider-Man introduces too many ideas that go nowhere undermining the actual threat at hand. No one wants to be unfulfilled but that's the overriding difference between the original movie and the update. You need to pay for the sequel to know what the heck is going on in this one.
Disney/Dreamworks today released the first trailer for their upcoming adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s bestselling novel The Help, starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, and Octavia Spencer as three women living in Civil Rights-era Mississippi who decide to collaborate on a secret writing project. The inspirational drama marks the sophomore feature effort for director Tate Taylor, whose 2009 debut, Pretty Ugly People, grossed $6,537 at the domestic box office, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com. Judging from the hype surrounding the trailer, we imagine The Help will probably do a little better:
For those eager for more Help action, a 90-second version of The Help trailer will air during the Barbara Walters 20/20 Royal Wedding Special, William & Catherine: A Modern Fairytale. So there.
The Help opens August 12, 2011.
Spotted: Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal not looking like "just friends" in Nashville on Saturday. But here's a photo of them looking like one of them is accosting the other for not donating a dollar to typhoid fever research. - People
Anderson Cooper said Lady Gaga got him drunk of whiskey when he was interviewing her in London for 60 Minutes. Of the event: "We actually ended up that day in a pub in London drinking Jameson, which I don't really drink. So, she got me to drink like two of them, and by the end I was ready to have the interview be over because I really sort of couldn't ask any more questions." Oh Andy Coop. - Huffpo
Willie Nelson was arrested for possession of marijuana on Friday in Texas. If convicted, he could be sentenced to six months in prison. Someone prepare his pot shirts for their upcoming abandonment issues. - TMZ
Katy Perry will not stop wearing latex just because she looks better in it than your boyfriend's penis. - People
And the next person who will soon be divorced is...David Beckham. - Radar Online
Mariah Carey might be carrying twins because she said, "I just hope they don't turn out hating Christmas!" No, they'll turn out hating something stupid, like socks and their mother. - Radar Online
Kim Kardashian has joined Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and Alicia Keys in quitting Facebook and Twitter for World AIDS Day, which is this Wednesday. Ed Helms better get ready to fill the void. - People
Barbara Walters named the cast of Jersey Shore as one of her Ten Most Fascinating People of 2010. Also on the list is Sandra Bullock, LeBron James, Betty White, Justin Bieber, Sarah Palin, Jennifer Lopez, Kate Middleton, and two other people that will be named during the ABC News Special. Obviously not on the list? Following the rules and only naming 10 people. - US Magazine
Top Story: Billy Bob Denies Cheating on Angelina
Billy Bob Thornton insists he did not cheat on his ex-wife Angelina Jolie while they were married. In an interview with GQ magazine, The Associated Press reports the actor said the infidelity "was [a] rumor but that was never it." Thornton went on to explain what really contributed to the marital breakup was that he and Jolie just had different ideas about how they wanted to live their lives; for example, he said, Jolie likes to go all over the world while he just wanted to stay home. In a July 2003 interview with Barbara Walters on 20/20, Jolie said she didn't feel like she knew Thornton anymore and thought that she would never get married again, AP reports.
Give Affleck His Razzies
Ben Affleck jokingly complained to AP Radio that he never got all the Razzies he won for Pearl Harbor and hoped his Gigli Razzie Awards, given for being the worst movie of 2003, were in the mail. He said he should, at the very least, get "a golden sack of grapes or something" and commented that the people who give out the awards have "diminished their integrity," by neglecting to send him his just rewards. But seriously, folks, Affleck said what happened to him and former fiancée Jennifer Lopez was his fears coming true all at once. "A fear starts to seep in, like what if something bad happens? What if everybody hates my movie? What if I have some public embarrassment? Then it all happens in a month and it turns out all right, it's not the end of the world," Affleck told AP Radio.
Bo Derek Lobbies for Horses
Actress and horse lover Bo Derek traveled to Washington, D.C., Tuesday to support legislation that would ban the killing of horses for gourmet dining overseas, AP reports. While the practice of slaughtering American horses for food has declined in recent years, the legislation--written by Reps. John Sweeney, whose district includes the historic Saratoga racetrack, and Ed Whitfield, a thoroughbred owner--would stop the nearly 50,000 horses countries killed every year for foreign consumption in countries such as France and Japan, where the meat is considered gourmet fare. "As a horse owner, I was shocked," Derek told AP. "We don't use horses any longer for pet food so why are we sending them over to other countries?"
Teenager Convicted in TV Actor's Shooting Death
Monique King, the 17-year-old girl whose false rape claim led to the 2002 shooting death of actor Merlin Santana, was convicted Tuesday of second-degree murder, AP reports. On the night of the shooting, King apparently told the two men who were convicted of killing Santana that the actor had made unwanted advances towards her, spurring the men into shooting Santana--best known for his recurring role on The Steve Harvey Show--as he sat in the passenger seat of a car. The girl later admitted the rape claim was a lie, AP reports.
Danny Aiello Wants To Sing
Actor Danny Aiello, best known for his films Do the Right Thing, Broadway Danny Rose and Moonstruck, has decided at the age of 70 to record an album, AP reports. "I've always loved to sing," Aiello said. "I've been singing since I was a kid." I Just Wanted to Hear the Words should be released in April, he told AP. The CD includes his renditions of standards such as "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" and "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter."
Blink-182 Cancels Shows After Drummer Injured
The group Blink-182 has canceled concerts in Australia, Japan and Hawaii after drummer Travis Barker fell down while getting off a bus in Melbourne Thursday and broke his foot, MTV.com reports. "It was just a freak accident," Barker said in a statement. "But it'll heal and we'll be back." Blink-182 will remain off the road until two shows scheduled in Mexico on April 22-23 and will go ahead with their planned 16-date tour with Cypress Hill and Taking Back Sunday, starting April 29 in Boise, Idaho. The group, which is touring in support of their untitled sixth album, will also co-headline a summer tour with No Doubt beginning June 1 outside Indianapolis.
The Apprentice Is NBC's "Trump" Card
Money, money, money, money! Donald Trump's hit reality series The Apprentice gave NBC the edge they needed to stay competitive among viewers aged 18 to 49 this week. Despite competing against TV's most popular program, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Apprentice drew a total of 19.2 million viewers last Thursday, landing it in the No. 6 position for the week. Here are the Top 10 shows for the week of March 8-14, according to Nielsen Media Research: (1) CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS (2) American Idol (Tuesday), FOX (3) Survivor: All-Stars, CBS (4) American Idol (Wednesday), FOX (5) Without a Trace, CBS (6) The Apprentice, NBC (7) Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS (8) Friends, NBC (9) Cold Case, CBS (10) Will & Grace, NBC
Role Call: Parker, Walken Join Cigarettes, Bullock Gets Love Interest, More…
Mary-Louise Parker and Christopher Walken have signed to star alongside James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Mandy Moore and Kate Winslet in the musical comedy Romance and Cigarettes, to be directed by John Turturro. The United Artists project follows a cheating blue-collar husband who is forced to choose between his sexy mistress and his harried wife. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Romance will be intersperse by lip-synched performances of popular songs by artists including Nick Cave, Tom Jones and Bruce Springsteen … CBS' Without a Trace star Enrique Murciano has signed on to star as Sandra Bullock's love interest in Miss Congeniality 2. In the film, FBI Special Agent Gracie Hart (Bullock) heads to Las Vegas on a new case, wh